- Interplay of ‘induced fit’ and preorganization in the ligand induced folding of the aptamer domain of the guanine binding riboswitch (2007)
- Riboswitches are highly structured elements in the 50-untranslated regions (50-UTRs) of messenger RNA that control gene expression by specifically binding to small metabolite molecules. They consist of an aptamer domain responsible for ligand binding and an expression platform. Ligand binding in the aptamer domain leads to conformational changes in the expression platform that result in transcription termination or abolish ribosome binding. The guanine riboswitch binds with high-specificity to guanine and hypoxanthine and is among the smallest riboswitches described so far. The X-ray-structure of its aptamer domain in complex with guanine/ hypoxanthine reveals an intricate RNA-fold consisting of a three-helix junction stabilized by longrange base pairing interactions. We analyzed the conformational transitions of the aptamer domain induced by binding of hypoxanthine using highresolution NMR-spectroscopy in solution. We found that the long-range base pairing interactions are already present in the free RNA and preorganize its global fold. The ligand binding core region is lacking hydrogen bonding interactions and therefore likely to be unstructured in the absence of ligand. Mg2+-ions are not essential for ligand binding and do not change the structure of the RNA-ligand complex but stabilize the structure at elevated temperatures. We identified a mutant RNA where the long-range base pairing interactions are disrupted in the free form of the RNA but form upon ligand binding in an Mg2+-dependent fashion. The tertiary interaction motif is stable outside the riboswitch context.
- Dissecting the influence of Mg2+ on 3D architecture and ligand-binding of the guanine-sensing riboswitch aptamer domain (2010)
- Long-range tertiary interactions determine the three-dimensional structure of a number of metabolite-binding riboswitch RNA elements and were found to be important for their regulatory function. For the guanine-sensing riboswitch of the Bacillus subtilis xpt-pbuX operon, our previous NMR-spectroscopic studies indicated pre-formation of long-range tertiary contacts in the ligand-free state of its aptamer domain. Loss of the structural pre-organization in a mutant of this RNA (G37A/C61U) resulted in the requirement of Mg2+ for ligand binding. Here, we investigate structural and stability aspects of the wild-type aptamer domain (Gsw) and the G37A/C61U-mutant (Gswloop) of the guanine-sensing riboswitch and their Mg2+-induced folding characteristics to dissect the role of long-range tertiary interactions, the link between pre-formation of structural elements and ligand-binding properties and the functional stability. Destabilization of the long-range interactions as a result of the introduced mutations for Gswloop or the increase in temperature for both Gsw and Gswloop involves pronounced alterations of the conformational ensemble characteristics of the ligand-free state of the riboswitch. The increased flexibility of the conformational ensemble can, however, be compensated by Mg2+. We propose that reduction of conformational dynamics in remote regions of the riboswitch aptamer domain is the minimal pre-requisite to pre-organize the core region for specific ligand binding.